The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) has been key to returning law and order to the Cité Soleil neighbourhood of the capital city Port-au-Prince, which was formerly controlled by armed gangs, the UN’s top peacekeeping official was told during a visit today.
“MINUSTAH’s presence has permitted us to re-establish security,” Haitian Police Inspector Rosemond Aristide told Under-Secretary-General Alain Le Roy, adding: “Now the population of Cité Soleil can pursue their normal occupations.”
Among the sites visited by Mr. Le Roy, who was accompanied by MINUSTAH head Hedi Annabi, was the imposing police edifice renovated through mission funding along with grants from the Haitian Stabilization Initiative, a project of the United States Government.
According to a MINUSTAH press release, operations conducted in 2006 by the Mission and the Haitian national police helped neutralize the heads of the armed gangs, who after 2004 had created a lawless zone in the neighbourhood, which was founded in 1967 to shelter people displaced by construction in the port area of Port-au-Prince.
Much of the neighbourhood then descended into extreme poverty over the years as large-scale migration from rural areas came to Cité Soleil, which in the 1990s, was the power base for ex-President Jean Bertand Aristide.
During the visit of Mr. Le Roy, the mayor of Cité Soleil, Wilson Louis, reminded him that the problems that foster crime in the neighbourhood remain, including high employment and inadequate housing.
As part of his five-day trip, Mr. Le Roy held a press conference yesterday at MINUSTAH headquarters, during which he promised to be an advocate for its operations in the country to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and international partners.